Health Law, Entitlement Programs Part Of GOP Campaign Talk

News outlets report on the positions taken and jabs traded by the GOP presidential candidates as they position themselves for primary elections in Michigan and Arizona.  

McClatchy: GOP Candidates Say They Care For Poor But Would Cut Safety Net
After he appeared to dismiss the very poor, Mitt Romney was forced to backpedal from his politically perilous remarks. But he and other candidates stand by bedrock conservative principles of cutting entitlement programs and government spending…Several other states have recently trimmed programs for the poor. Wisconsin and New Jersey cut the percentage they contribute to the earned income tax credit. Washington froze enrollment for a state-run health care plan. South Carolina wants to impose a drug test on people receiving unemployment benefits (Semuels, 2/27).

Los Angeles Times: Rick Santorum Predicts A 'Surprise' On Eve Of Primaries
[Santorum] contrasted that with President Obama, who he said claimed that America was not a great country until entitlement programs were passed. [The president actually said "we would not be a great country" without safety-net programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.] … Santorum also repeated his arguments that Romney would be a weak competitor for Obama because of the healthcare plan he crafted while he was governor of Massachusetts and his positions on issues such as global warming. He also argued that voters ought to consider that while Romney and his supporters spent millions of dollars in state-by-state battles to crush rivals, such a strategy would not work in the general election against Obama (Mehta, 2/27).

Reuters: Santorum's Plan To Gut Obama Regulations Faces Hurdles
Republican candidates have pledged to reverse the controversial healthcare law, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance and imposes new obligations on insurers, such as requiring them to take patients regardless of pre-existing conditions. Because these rules are not yet implemented and they come from an Executive Branch agency controlled by the White House, a President Santorum would have a better chance of canceling them (Lawder, 2/27).

Boston Globe: Republican Rivals Trade Last Jabs In Michigan
Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney yesterday accused each other of being unfit for the Republican presidential nomination in the finale to a primary vote today that could reshape the contest once again. Santorum called Romney "uniquely unqualified"’ to be the nominee, saying his rival's Massachusetts health care plan would hinder Republicans from criticizing President Obama's similar federal plan. He also again described Romney's claim of conservatism as laughable. "Michigan, you have the opportunity to stop the joke,’" Santorum said (Viser and Calvan, 2/28).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Gingrich Turns To Health Care, Etc.
Newt Gingrich sat in a law firm’s event room here Monday with a small panel of health-care professionals to discuss overhauling President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law, among other things. For the first 20 minutes, he let others talk. Apparently realizing their guest had gone silent — an aide to Mr. Gingrich at one point brought him a cup of coffee — a panelist turned the microphone over to the presidential candidate. But the former House speaker did not seize the opportunity to reassert himself in the conversation (Yadron, 2/27).

Meanwhile, it appears, according to the Associated Press, that President Barack Obama is gaining support among women as birth control and other social issues become a "bigger part of the national discourse" -

The Associated Press: Obama Gains With Women: Jobs, Social Issues Help
It's looking like President Barack Obama may be back in the good graces of women. His support dropped among this critical constituency just before the new year began and the presidential campaign got under way in earnest. But his standing with female voters is strengthening, polls show, as the economy improves and social issues, including birth control, become a bigger part of the nation's political discourse (Agiesta and Kellman, 2/27).

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